Many of the Massachusetts Section 8 requirements are determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides oversight and funding at the federal level. However, this program is administered at the local level by public housing agencies (PHAs). A housing authority enforces the HUD’s requirements, but it also has the right to set its own eligibility criteria.
Because each PHA is an independent organization, the Section 8 qualifications can vary slightly depending on where you apply. Furthermore, certain requirements, such as income limits, may be different in some areas of the state. Read below to learn more about Section 8 eligibility in MA and find out whether you can qualify for assistance.
What are the Section 8 requirements in Massachusetts?
Most of the basic Section 8 housing eligibility requirements are the same no matter where you apply for assistance. Overall, the main qualifications for this program relate to:
- Family status
- Citizenship or legal presence in the U.S.
- History with other government housing programs
First, your household will qualify as a family if it contains two or more people, with or without children. Generally, your Section 8 eligibility in Massachusetts is not affected by your marital status, sexual orientation or similar other factors.
It is possible that you will meet the Section 8 qualifications as a single person as well. In order to do so, you usually must be elderly, disabled or displaced from home. You may also be able to get assistance as a single person if you are the remaining member of a family that receives rental help already.
At least one person in your family needs to be a U.S. citizen or a legally present non-citizen. Some categories of immigrants are eligible, but others are not.
Your Section 8 housing eligibility is not affected by your residency. In other words, you do not need to live in the state to apply for assistance in Massachusetts. However, PHAs tend to give preference to local applicants, and it is often easier to get approved when you apply through a housing authority in your own community.
Next, you usually need to be in good standing with the Section 8 program, public housing programs and other government housing services. If you have been banned from any of these programs in the past, it may mean that you are currently ineligible for assistance.
Finally, housing authorities may have their own Section 8 requirements that you need to meet in addition to the HUD rules. For example, some PHAs will check the following when considering your eligibility:
- Criminal history
- Rental history
- Credit reports
Learn more about the Section 8 qualifications you may need to meet by reading our detailed guide here.
What are the Massachusetts Section 8 income limits?
The Section 8 income guidelines outline the maximum amount you can earn to qualify for rental assistance. In general, you must earn no more than 50 percent of the median family income.
For this program, your income will be compared with median earnings for your city or county rather than the whole state of Massachusetts. This is because income levels vary from one part of the state to the next.
While you can meet the Section 8 requirements in Massachusetts with an income at or below 50 percent of the median, your chances of being approved are better if you are in a lower income bracket. By law, PHAs are required to reserve the majority of their housing assistance vouchers for families that earn below 30 percent of the median income.
Which documents do I need to meet Section 8 requirements in Massachusetts?
A PHA will need to verify that you meet the Section 8 requirements when you sign up for assistance. In some cases, you will undergo a full eligibility review when you submit your initial application. Other times, you only need to provide your eligibility documents when a voucher becomes available.
In any case, you should be prepared to verify information such as your identity, legal presence, income and other factors. You can commonly use the following documents to meet these requirements:
- Birth certificates
- Photo IDs
- Social Security cards
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs or bank statements
- Immigration documents
You must verify the Section 8 qualifications of each family member, which means you will need to have documents for everyone in your household who wants benefits. Your PHA can give you additional information on the exact paperwork you need to have.
Which Massachusetts Section 8 housing requirements do I have to meet?
Upon being approved for a voucher, it is your responsibility to find a home or apartment to rent. The unit will need to meet a variety of Section 8 housing requirements before you are allowed to move in. In order to be approved, the apartment must:
- Be rented out at a fair rate.
- Be large enough for your family.
- Pass a health and safety inspection.
- Be leased by a landlord who takes vouchers.
Note that you may be able to use your voucher on your current home. However, your unit will still need to be inspected before you are allowed to use your rental assistance on it. If you continue to live in the same unit for more than one year, keep in mind that the PHA will perform annual inspections.
What happens if I don’t meet the Section 8 qualifications?
If you cannot meet the Section 8 requirements in Massachusetts through one PHA, it is important to be aware that you can apply for assistance through any housing authority. Because the Section 8 qualifications can vary, it is possible you will be approved for a voucher through a different organization.
There are also a variety of other government and community programs that can help you afford your rent. If you are denied a voucher, you may consider looking into other similar programs. The Section 8 income limits and other requirements often differ from those for other services.